Mookie Wilson gives entertaining talk at Sterling House ‘Celebrity Breakfast’
STRATFORD, CT (May 28, 2018) –Former New York Mets star Mookie Wilson told an audience of more than 200 people at the Trumbull Marriott recently that given the talent on the Mets in the 1980s, “we certainly should have won more championships.”
Wilson, an outfielder known for his speed, hustle and good attitude, was a key player on the Mets team that won its only recent championship in the classic World Series of 1986 versus the Boston Red Sox.
Wilson was the special guest speaker at Sterling House Community Center’s Celebrity Breakfast benefiting the programs and services of the 86-year-old non-profit agency in Stratford.
Bob Baird, a lifetime Stratford resident, high school athletic director and coach, along with Stratford High senior Ryan Duffy were also honored at the breakfast for their community service.
Wilson, who is also an ordained Baptist Church minister, gave an entertaining and enthusiastic presentation, telling listeners that “through the grace of God, I survived a lot of hardships.”
He noted that his love of baseball came early in life, instilled by his father who “worked sunup to sundown on the farm.” But when the weekend came, “Saturday and Sunday was all about baseball. He wore his baseball cap to church.”
Wilson noted that the “game of baseball has not changed” though the years. What has changed is the way “the numbers are looked at.”
Admitting with some sheepishness to the audience that he watched the Yankees’ game the previous evening, he illustrated his point by questioning the usefulness of some popular new statistical measures, like “exit velocity,” which measures the speed at which a home run leaves the ballpark, and WAR – Wins Above Replacement – a statistic that Wilson said he wouldn’t even try to define.
“Who cares how fast the ball travels out of the park on a home run,” he exclaimed, his voice rising. “It’s a home run!”
The same with pitching statistics. “Pitching today is all about velocity, location and movement,” he said, noting the equation that “velocity + poor location = home run.”
In years past “what mattered most was location,” he said, illustrating that point with former Mets pitcher Matt Harvey, recently released from the team. “Matt got hurt. And when he came back he had the same velocity, but he had lost his location.”
Wilson then repeated an anecdote that he often tells – the story of him becoming a minister. When he is speaking in a church, Wilson realizes that people in the audience see him first as a baseball player.
At one particular church, he started his message in the pulpit by saying, “’Before we get started, there's one thing I need to do.’ I then took my jacket off, loosened my shirt collar, did some stretching, and jogged from one side of the pulpit to the other. I did a couple of jumping jacks and then I told the audience, 'Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let's get to why we are here.'"
While he was telling that anecdote, Wilson physically acted out the steps he described for the local crowd, including taking off his shirt, mock running and stretching on the stage, and doing a half-dozen jumping jacks in front of the amused Sterling House breakfast audience.
Wilson then praised the work of Sterling House. “Change is good when it affects everyone in a positive way. Your organization is about change when it affects everyone in a positive way.”
He continued, “Your organization gives kids the opportunity to improve their lives through sports.”
Wilson also stressed the important of “effort.”
“There are no guarantees in life, but if the effort is there, you can feel good about that.
“In life, you have to find out who you are because our expectations in life are not always realized.
“Don’t necessarily worry about results, worry about your effort … and the results validate the effort.
“Maximize your strengths,” he told the audience, “and avoid exposing your weaknesses.
“My job in baseball was to run as fast as I can all the time. And it paid off in 1986,” he said, recalling the now infamous last play of Game Six in the 1986 World Series. On the 10th pitch of his at-bat against Bob Stanley in extra innings, Wilson hit a sharp grounder to Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner, who misplayed the ball allowing the winning run to score.
Today, Buckner and Wilson are “great friends,” he said, and often appear together at events.
Wilson took questions from the audience, and at one point observed that “baseball is the greatest game in the world … but baseball fans are crazy.
“Sports brings out the best and the worst in us.
“Met fans – Mets fans are patient,” Wilson said, evoking some laughter in the audience.
“Yankee fans? Yankee fans feel entitled. If they don’t win the championship, then they think it’s been stolen from them.
“And Boston fans are never happy!” he said more loudly. They’ve won three World Series in the last 15 years, “yet Boston fans are still not happy,” he exclaimed to more laughter.
“Sports teaches us many things, and one of them is that yesterday is gone.
“If there’s something I have to deal with three hours from now – like getting to the airport – I will deal with it then.
“What matters right now is my speaking to you.
“And what we can do today is to improve our community, our schools and our churches.
Nearing the end of his presentation, he told the audience that he often gets asks that if Buckner had fielded his ground ball cleanly, would Wilson have been out at first base?
“Yes, I would have beaten him to the bag,” he said, confidently.
For more information on this press release, please contact Chris Carroll at (203) 378-2606, ext. 106, or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.